Brian White | December 28, 2023 | Car Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies car accidents as one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries in the United States. Brain injuries can range from mild to severe, leaving you and other victims suffering a wide range of both temporary and potentially permanent symptoms.
Whiplash is one way you can sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a car accident. If you suffer a whiplash injury in a collision caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim. This could result in either a verdict or a settlement directing the at-fault party to pay compensation to you for your economic and non-economic losses.
Here is what you need to know about whiplash injuries sustained in Houston car accidents and what you can expect the average settlement to be.
Whiplash and Houston Car Accidents
The term “whiplash” is used to describe the injuries associated with the movement of your head and neck in a car accident. Whether you are struck head-on, from the rear, or from the side, your head and neck can be forced to move quickly and abruptly in one direction and the other. This is whiplash, in that your head and neck mimic the motion of a whip being cracked.
This movement can cause strains and sprains to your neck muscles. However, more concerningly, the whip-like movement of your head can jostle your brain and cause it to strike the inside of your skull. This can cause trauma to the brain that can lead to symptoms like headaches, memory issues, and physical limitations.
Deciding Whether To Settle Your Whiplash Case
If you file a claim for damages following a car wreck in which you sustain whiplash injuries, you decide whether to accept any settlement agreement that is presented to you. While settlements often do not give you the same amount of compensation you might receive by taking your case to trial, a settlement is often beneficial in that it guarantees you some compensation.
In deciding whether to accept a settlement offer, you will want to consider how well it covers your losses. While every settlement is different, the amount of a settlement offer for whiplash injuries should cover the following expenses:
Medical Care and Related Expenses
Your medical costs for a whiplash-related TBI will depend on the severity of the damage to your brain. One recent study found that the average hospital stay for someone diagnosed with any type of TBI was approximately six days and cost about $21,000.
The more severe your traumatic brain injury, the longer your hospital stay will be — and, by extension, the greater the cost you will incur.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention further estimated the average yearly cost of treatment for TBIs was approximately $14,000.
In 2022, the per capita personal income in Texas was approximately $62,000. This means that, on average, for every day that the average Texan misses work, they lose $170 in wages.
If your TBI requires six days of hospitalization, you will have lost about $1,000 in wages. But you can incur additional losses if you cannot return to full-time work or perform the sort of work you used to do before your accident.
Pain and Suffering
It is difficult to assign a monetary value to someone’s pain and suffering because that type of non-economic loss is personal. One person’s experience of the mental and emotional tolls of a whiplash injury will be different from another’s experience. As a general rule, pain and suffering compensation can be calculated as a multiple of your other losses.
For example, suppose that you incur medical costs of $20,000 and lost wages of $1,000 for a mild whiplash TBI. Pain and suffering damages you would seek through your claim might total $42,000 ($21,000 x 2). Like other types of losses, the more severe your traumatic brain injury and the more permanent your injuries, the greater your pain and suffering.
Determining the Average Settlement For Whiplash
Taken together, the average cost for a mild whiplash TBI could be as low as $21,000 if you suffer no emotional distress – and up to $50,000 to $60,000 when pain and suffering are considered. But this is just one example of a whiplash-related injury case.
Generally, the average settlement for whiplash injuries involving minor neck and back injuries related to Houston car accidents ranges from $10,000 to $100,000. For whiplash injuries involving life-changing or permanent disabilities, those numbers can reach up to $5 million.
This is because severe whiplash injuries can completely incapacitate the victim and require around-the-clock medical care and assistance.
These claims may seek millions of dollars in damages as victims and their families attempt to recover compensation for:
- Extensive and frequent hospital stays and procedures
- Lifetime therapeutic assistance and services
- Lost past and future wages of both victims and caregivers
- Necessary assistive devices like wheelchairs, home modifications, and special vehicles
- The mental pain and anguish the victim experiences because of their injuries
Other forms of compensation in a whiplash lawsuit, such as punitive damages, are often not considered in settlement agreements, as most settlements do not involve an admission of wrongdoing by the at-fault party. A denial of wrongful conduct obviates any need to punish wrong behavior through punitive damages.
How Much Should You Settle Your Houston Whiplash Case For?
Knowing the average settlement numbers can help you better understand what is a fair and reasonable amount of compensation for whiplash and related injuries. Settlement offers that are far below these averages should be carefully considered before accepting, as they may leave you without the funds you need to address your bills and financial losses.
A qualified Houston personal injury lawyer can help you accurately determine whether a settlement offer presented to you adequately compensates you for your past and future losses.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer to Help You With Your Claim
For more information, contact the Houston personal injury law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers
3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 350
Houston, TX 77098
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – East Fwy
11811 East Fwy, Suite 630-06
Houston, TX 77029
Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers – South Loop
2600 S Loop W, Suite 293
Houston, TX 77054